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Posts Tagged ‘Lance Henriksen’

The Terminator

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

“Your world is pretty terrifying.”

Summer of ’91 origins: THE TERMINATOR

The only review I’ve written of the original THE TERMINATOR was in 2007 – so out of date it was combined into a review of the “trilogy” and framed as a response to THE TRANSFORMERS. There are some good observations and funny lines in that review, but I’m a smarter person now and I think there’s way more to say about the movie. So I thought I should take another crack at it before we get to its sequel in this Summer of ’91 retrospective.

In the fall of 1984, director/co-writer James Cameron exploded into filmgoer-consciousness with a stylish and imaginative little sci-fi chase movie called THE TERMINATOR. Made on about a fifth of the budget of the recent hit GHOSTBUSTERS and released by outsiders Hemdale (VICE SQUAD, TURKEY SHOOT) and Orion Pictures (MAD MAX, THE HAND, ROCK & RULE), it nevertheless immediately announces itself as a force to be reckoned with. The quiet, world-establishing text, the nightmarish glimpses of futuristic combat between man and machine, the absolute all-timer of a theme by Brad Fiedel (JUST BEFORE DAWN) and the slow reveal of the logo (title design by Ernest D. Farino, who later did GODZILLA 1985, CRITTERS, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, ALIEN NATION, THE ABYSS and NEMESIS) all set the mood for a genre movie of unusual ferocity. Not bad for a guy who had only directed PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mimic 3: Sentinel

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

Neither MIMIC or MIMIC 2 seemed to go over all that well, but that didn’t stop Dimension Films from releasing MIMIC 3: SENTINEL in 2003. This is probly my favorite of the three, and at the very least it deserves high marks for taking advantage of the pre-sold nature of the format to take a weird left turn, not at all the lower-budget-rehash approach of so many DTV sequels. It follows a drastically different template: the Hitchcockian voyeur thriller. It even uses a quasi-Saul Bass movie poster font for the title. But it doesn’t feel like they took an old suspense thriller script and grafted a bug man onto it, because it ties into and builds off of the world of MIMIC in smart and interesting ways.

This one is written and directed by J.T. Petty, whose THE BURROWERS I’ve been meaning to check out forever. He also did SOFT FOR DIGGING (a $5,000 student feature that I believe got him this gig), S&MANand HELLBENDERS. Here he’s made a movie that kind of feels like it comes out of the same school as early Soderbergh or Nolan – the hyper-intelligent indie guys that were more into old noirs than drive-in movies. (read the rest of this shit…)

Near Dark

Monday, October 14th, 2019

NEAR DARK is what happens when young, hungry Kathryn Bigelow comes off of co-directing the arty biker movie THE LOVELESS and teams up with the writer of THE HITCHER to do horror movies. She and Eric Red sat down and wrote two scripts together, one for each to direct. A producer says on the making-of featurette that he trusted her to direct, then admits he told her up front that she had three days to convince him not to fire her.

Man, firing her would’ve been a huge fuck up! It’s definitely a cool scenario they came up with, but the primary appeal of the movie is Bigelow’s style, mood, attitude. I suppose the alternate timeline scab that took over would’ve at least had the great cast she put together. Yes, three of them (Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein) had already been together in ALIENS (a movie that exists in some form within the NEAR DARK universe, unless the “ALIEN5” we see on a marquee meant PROMETHEUS). Bigelow correctly guessed that they’d not only be perfect for the characters, but would carry over a chemistry and familiarity that would work well as this outlaw family. Reportedly she hired them all separately and all were worried about the perception of following ALIENS with a low budget vampire movie. But they knew what they were doing. They chose right. (read the rest of this shit…)

Mom and Dad

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Brian Taylor is the former camera operator and guy who played “Young Man” in THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN who, with partner Mark Neveldine, wrote and directed CRANK, CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE, GAMER and GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE. The CRANKs are beloved by many, and feature some fun ideas and a game Jason Statham, but when I watched them a decade ago I could not abide their intentionally obnoxious why-are-you-hitting-yourself-why-are-you-hitting-yourself stylistic and comedic fart-in-the-face. GAMER I despised even more because it tried harder to work as a high concept action movie and tried less to make it possible to have any clue what you are ever even looking at. And GHOST RIDER I don’t think they were happy with and it’s not very good but I liked some of what they did.

But in 2017 Taylor made his solo directing debut with MOM AND DAD and for my money this is his best movie. (He has subsequently done two seasons of a SyFy series called Happy! which I’ve heard some good things about.) It’s not like he’s changed what he’s about. He’s still using gimmicky camera moves, cheeky needle drops and spastic cutaways, and you better believe he’s gonna repeatedly slap you across the face with bursts of rockin guitars and blip bloopin dubstep electro-burps (score by Australian DJ/producer Mr. Bill). But it feels more under his control, more like a storyteller strategically employing chaos in service of a story, less like a dude with no pants on blowing two airhorns in your face and uncontrollably giggling about how funny it is that he’s doing it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Road to Paloma

Friday, December 21st, 2018

ROAD TO PALOMA is the directational debut of actor/barbarian Jason Momoa, who also co-wrote and stars as Robert Wolf, a rugged but charming motorcycle ridin fugitive. Six months ago he put on face paint and killed the man who raped and killed his mother. Since then he’s been laying low, “up in the Sierras mostly,” doing Jason Momoa things like building a fence, repairing cars and motorcycles, pushing wheelbarrows, drinking out of a tin cup next to a campfire, smoking loosely rolled cigarettes, and riding around desert highways, sometimes with a mask, but never with a helmet.

This is a road movie, and all along the road he has old friends and family who he loves to sneak up behind and growl or grab, and there is always smiling and lifting people and spinning them around. He is loved by the full range of age groups from children to the elderly.

(read the rest of this shit…)

Strictly Bozness: The Fiery Majesty of STONE COLD

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

Another one from the Vern Vault: I have written about STONE COLD many times, but this was the only time I thought to title it STRICTLY BOZNESS. Originally posted October 15, 2015 on One Perfect Shot.

STRICTLY BOZNESS: THE FIERY MAJESTY OF ‘STONE COLD’

There is a certain type of action movie I love where it’s more important to be awesome than grounded; where the knowing use of cliches, absurd physics and extreme exaggeration are part of the agreement between the film and the audience. These are movies that are almost impossible to truly make fun of, because their ridiculousness is not a drawback, even when it’s an accident. They make you laugh but you’d be lying if you said you were only enjoying them ironically. Classics of this type include Schwarzenegger’s COMMANDO, Van Damme’s HARD TARGET and Seagal’s HARD TO KILL. (read the rest of this shit…)

Super Mario Bros.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

“Are you tellin us that you’re gonna arrest a guy for bein a plumber? Get outta here!”

May 28, 1993

Okay, look. I’m not claiming to know a better way to make a live action movie based on a video game about an Italian plumber eating mushrooms, punching bricks and murdering hundreds and hundreds of turtles but also collecting coins while trying to rescue a princess. And seeing how directors Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel reimagine the world of the famous Nintendo game as a dystopic Manhattan in an alternate dimension where people evolved out of dinosaurs is the closest thing to fun this movie has to offer.

But still. What the hell? It’s a question that must be asked. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Pit and the Pendulum (1991)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

tn_pitandthependulum“Confessions are only admitted under torture, otherwise you might confess just to avoid torture and it wouldn’t be a true confession.”

Stuart Gordon’s THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM opens with Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (Lance Henriksen, STONE COLD) and his Spanish Inquisition goons pulling a dead body out of a coffin, convicting him of heresy and giving him 20 lashes, which busts him apart until he’s a pile of bones. The man’s family watch, outraged, while a bunch of other rich people smile to themselves and lick their lips. Torquemada crushes the dead man’s skull into powder and uses it to fill an hourglass. That’s all before the credits start.

So, this movie is not fuckin around. And you guys know how I feel about a movie that’s not fuckin around. (Usually positive.)

Even still, it kinda snuck up on me. It’s a Full Moon production, and they’re doing a period piece (Spain, 1492) in the one castle they have access to, lots of fake looking wigs, some actors delivering their lines in a modern tone, some not. And then there’s a shitty looking font on the credits and they still couldn’t bother to change the title (it calls it THE INQUISITOR). And as it gets into the plot about a woman falsely accused by the Spanish Inquisition it seems like it’s gonna be mostly sitting through gruesome torture scenes: public whipping, burning at the stake, some citizens enjoying it, others being forced to watch, people tied to racks, screaming, getting slashed and/or sexually humiliated. But that’s just the fuel to a story that really comes together, a nice amalgam of Edgar Allan Poe ideas, adventure and most of all an extreme caricature of the type of hypocrites who stand in judgment of others to hide their own faults. Gordon worked in theater for years before RE-ANIMATOR made him a Master of Horror, and I imagine this is alot like one of his plays. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hard Target

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

tn_hardtargetwoozoneusaThere was a time, I must admit, when I didn’t properly appreciate HARD TARGET. I had already been intoxicated by the unadulterated John Woo of THE KILLER, BULLET IN THE HEAD and HARD BOILED (in that order, I believe) so when I watched his 1993 Hollywood debut I could only see the compromises. American Woo was less violent, less stylish, less emotional and built around the stiff toughness of Van Damme instead of the smooth charisma of Chow Yun Fat.

But with the passage of time comes wisdom and context. From the perspective of today we can see that HARD TARGET stepped deeper into the Woo Zone than any of his subsequent American films save for FACE/OFF. More importantly, it’s clearly a masterpiece among Van Damme vehicles, themselves an enjoyable body of work that can benefit from some Woo. A pessimist sees HARD TARGET as Woo watered down with Van Damme. But I’m an optimist now so I know it’s a refreshing glass of Van Damme spiked with a shot of Woo tequila. (read the rest of this shit…)

Hellraiser: Hellworld

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

tn_hellworldThe penultimate HELLRAISER, Rick Bota #3, is not really better than the previous DTV entries, and definitely way worse than any of the theatrical releases, but after three pretty samey ones in a row it was briefly refreshing to see the series, for the first time, try to pander to dumb young people. Elements include: an addictive internet game, an exclusive invite-only theme party, teen suicide, masked orgies, cell phones. Coming only 3 months after DEADER and from the same director it’s nice that it’s crappy in a completely different way.

Whoah, it's like the Matrix
Whoah, it’s like The Matrix

In the interim, LAND OF THE DEAD and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS had come out. That’s about it. Impossible to detect a change in the horror landscape. Instead of sticking with the times I guess they wanted to pull a LAWNMOWER MAN or BRAINSCAN type deal and base it around computer technology, so that the movie would already seem laughably dated and out of touch by the time it was finished editing.

The story is about a group of twenty-something friends (and one ex-friend) whose buddy Adam has just died horribly. We don’t know how it happened, but it had some connection to their shared obsession with a video game called Hellworld.

Two years later they’re thrilled to solve a virtual Lament Configuration and get invited to “a Hellworld party!!!” at a mansion on “86 Hillbound Drive.” It’s hosted by the great Lance Henriksen, who has a collection of puzzle boxes and weird babies in jars and claims the mansion was designed by LeMarchand, all of which delights his guests. There are young people dancing, drinking, mingling, some of them topless or just having sex right out in the open like it’s EYES WIDE SHUT. The host gives them all a cell phone and a paper mache mask with the phone number on the forehead so people will call and proposition each other. (read the rest of this shit…)